Grammy-nominated K-pop group BTS will be allowed to hold concerts outside South Korea even while they are serving in the military.

This is the proposal of Korea’s Ministry of National Defense for BTS whose member Jin will be up for enlistment next year, the first member to do so if no new law is passed.

(From top) BTS, Korea’s Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup and Rep. Sung Il-jong (Twitter, Ministry of National Defense, Facebook page of Rep. Sung Il-jong)

There is a pending bill in Korea’s National Assembly that will allow pop culture artists like BTS to be added to the arts and sports field that may be granted exemption from military service.

Under the Korean law Military Service Act, “art and sports personnel” refers to “persons with special skills in the field of arts or sports who are assigned … and perform duties in the field of arts or sports to promote culture and enhance national prestige.” They are recommended for exemption by the minister of culture, sports and tourism.

All Korean men are required by law to enlist in the military by age 28. Through an amendment of Korea’s Military Service Act, which took effect in June last year, BTS members were able to postpone their military service until age 30.

During a parliamentary session at the National Assembly on Aug. 1, Korea’s Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup answered a question from Rep. Sung Il-jong of the assembly’s Committee on National Defense on whether BTS will be allowed to continue performing for the country’s interest.

“(The BTS members) should come to the military, and I believe there will be a way for us to give them the opportunity to practice as well as allow them to leave the country and perform anytime if they have overseas concerts scheduled,” he said, the Korea Herald reported.

Minister Lee added, “Many people do think highly of military service itself, and I think (BTS members enlisting) can actually help them with their popularity.”

In addition, Military Manpower Administration Commissioner Lee Ki-sik said they are looking into ideas on the granting of military service exemption.

“We are reviewing (the matter) within the overall framework of alternative service,” Lee said.

In June, President Yoon Suk-yeol said granting military service exemption to BTS should depend on public opinion.

“I don’t think the president should state his position first. Depending on how the people view it, it could proceed in accordance with the law, or if public opinion is such, the National Assembly could revise the relevant regulations. I don’t think it’s something I should comment on first,” he said, Yonhap News reported.

Korean netizens have varied opinions about Lee’s comments.

“The members have already said that they are going to serve and even their fans are telling them to so why is the army making up all these arbitrary decisions on their own? Stop using celebrities as your pawns,” one said, according to Netizen Buzz.

Other comments include:

– “Sounds like they’re just going to use the group’s service for free attendance of national events and even have them performing overseas to bring in money. This is terrible!!!!!”

– “They should all just enlist at once… and they should be treated no differently from any other soldier in service.”

– “Enough with this nonsense. They never said they weren’t planning to serve, they’ve always said they were ready to go whenever they’re called. Enough with the media play.”

– “Just really sounds like the military is trying to use them for free for their own benefit.. but they’re trying to talk as if they had to pull some strings to get them these perks that no one asked for!!! Just let them serve in the army normally and go on break.”

– “Since the law says you’re not allowed to hold a job or be paid for a job while under service, who will be accepting the money they’ll be making if they’re allowed to perform overseas? The number will obviously be in the millions straight into the pockets of our government?”

– “Army service is everyone’s duty, no one should be given exceptions”

Source: Manila Bulletin (